This interview is one in a series of interviews with recipients of the 2023 ACGME Awards. The awardees join an outstanding group of previous honorees whose work and contributions to graduate medical education (GME) represent the best in the field. They will be honored at the ACGME Annual Educational Conference, taking place in Nashville, Tennessee February 23-25, 2023.
2023 Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Awardee Dr. Antoinette Spevetz is the designated institutional official (DIO) at Cooper University Health Care.
ACGME: How did you become involved in medicine, and in academic medicine specifically?
Dr. Spevetz: I was interested in medicine as a young student in high school. There was a program at Gannon University that was six years for college and medical school, specifically designed to bring family physicians back to northwestern Pennsylvania. Being of the Marcus Welby era, this was attractive to me. When I got to med school, I fell in love with internal medicine and more specifically critical care. I found that my two passions were critical care and education. Being the DIO allows me to work clinically for part of the time and then to be involved in the academics for the other portion. It is the perfect balance.
ACGME: What does this award mean to you?
Spevetz: Resident and fellow education and their training environment are very important to me. I work hard to set up a warm, welcoming environment where the residents and fellows are heard and recognized. I am honored to be recognized for the work I have done in GME, as well as for leadership in the institution.
ACGME: What do you feel is the most important job a designated institutional official has?
Spevetz: I think that being visible and present with the program directors and trainees is vital. As an intensivist, I interact with most of my program directors and house staff on a regular basis. I think this helps me understand their issues and gives me credibility with them. It is hard for people to tell me that I don’t understand things clinically or what it is like to be a physician.
ACGME: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Spevetz: Seeing trainees progress from interns to capable internists, pediatricians, surgeons, etc. during their training. I love seeing them move on as capable, well-trained physicians.
ACGME: What is the most challenging?
Spevetz: Managing all the people and the institutional issues, including budgets.
ACGME: What advice do you have to residents or fellows who may be interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine?
Spevetz: It is extremely rewarding, and I would highly recommend it. You need to have empathy, understanding, and compassion. Listening is sometimes the most important thing you can do. You also have to be able to stand up for what's right.
ACGME: Is there anything you would like to add we haven’t asked about?
Spevetz: I don’t know that anyone sets out to be a DIO in life, but it is an amazingly rewarding job and I love it and am honored to be recognized for doing something I love.
Learn more about the ACGME’s Parker J. Palmer Courage to Lead Award and nominate a deserving DIO for the 2024 Award – nominations are due by March 15, 2023.